Washington DC Student Loan Debt and Financial Aid Statistics

Washington DC Student Loan Debt and Financial Aid Statistics

Please note for the purposes of this comparison Washington DC may be referred to as a state despite being the capital city and a federal district rather than a state.

Federal student loan debt statistics in Washington DC

  • Washington DC has a total student loan debt of $6.5 billion
  • This makes Washington DC the state with the 41st largest student loan debt of any state in the country
  • 16.60% of the population of DC have some kind of student loan debt – the highest proportion of residents with student loan debt of any state in the country
  • However, only 118,300 residents in the region have student loan debt making it the state with the 47th most residents with student loan debt in the country given the small size of the district compared to most states
  • 53.10% of the borrowers are under the age of 35 – the 19th highest percentage of any state

How much student loan debt does the average Washington DC resident have?

  • The average borrower in Washington DC has a larger student loan debt than in any other state in the country
  • The average student loan debt per borrower is $54,945
  • This is $17,158 above the national average of $37,787
  • North Dakota is the state with the smallest average student loan debt per borrower at $28,604 just over half the average debt of a borrower from Washington DC
  • Amongst other contributing factors, it is thought that the large number of advanced degrees such as doctorates, medical degrees and law degrees amongst governmental employees and the surrounding eco-system contributes to this high figure
  • Within this average, the amount owed by DC residents varies greatly:
    • 12.20% of borrowers owe less than $5k – the smallest proportion of borrowers that owe this amount when compared to other states
    • 19.60% of borrowers owe between $20k and $40k – the 5th smallest percentage owing this amount
    • 5.70% of borrowers owe more than $200k – the largest percentage of borrowers of any state owing this amount

How much do Washington DC residents borrow each year?

  • 41.5% of undergraduate students in Washington DC take out federal student loans each year
  • This is the 15th highest uptake rate of student loans out of the 50 states and Washington DC
  • At 2-year schools, 75.80% of students take student loans each year – this is the highest uptake rate in the country at 2-year schools
  • They are also awarded the largest amount of any state in the country
  • The average student at a two-year college is loaned $7,094 per year to cover tuition fees and living expenses
  • At 4-year colleges, this number falls drastically to 41.10% of students that chose to take student loans
  • This is 36th in the country
  • On average, these students are loaned $7,074 which is the 11th most in the country for students at 4-year colleges

State-level financial aid for students in Washington DC 

  • Another reason why student loan debts may be so high is the lack of access to state-level student financial aid in Washington DC
  • Washington DC spends 0.06% of its Gross State Product on student financial aid – this is the lowest in the country by a distance
  • For context, only 7 other states spend below 0.3% of their GSP on student financial aid (New Hampshire, Arizona, Pennsylvania, Colorado, Vermont, Massachusetts, and Missouri)
  • Washington DC spends $32.4 million per year on student financial aid – the 36th largest budget in the country
  • This works out to $618 per undergraduate student
  • Of this amount, $832,000 is distributed through needs-based grants that do not need to be repaid
  • The remaining $31.568 million is distributed through other means – some of which may be due to be repaid by the students in the future